Within every relationship exists the division of labor.
I don’t necessarily mean the stereotypical gender “woman cooks and cleans/man fixes car” lines. I mean more that there are certain talents people possess, and in a relationship you figure out who’s the person to do a task based on their talent level.
Tom cooks and does a lot of the light cleaning–picking up, some dishes, etc. He’s the primary reason why we can consistently see the floor and the kitchen counter. I keep the bathroom more or less tidy (typically less) and I take the car for the weekly fill-up at the pump. Tom washes the car, I take it for oil changes and tire rotations. We both use Macs, so when the computers break or act wonky, I fix them. I also put in the phone time when we need to call customer service because Tom cannot handle customer service phone calls. We both do laundry and take care of trash and the recycling. I book travel and make reservations, Tom plans itineraries. Our house is not immaculate, but then, we don’t particularly care about immaculate. It is clean enough that we don’t have bugs and we don’t overbuy items because we misplace things–food is never left out, dishes do not go undone, the vacuum is run often enough. If my grandmother or aunt or father saw my apartment they’d be horrified, but I have never been able to bring myself to care about keeping things clean to that standard and Tom is only marginally neater than I am. It’s cluttered and untidy, but not out and out dirty, and so far our division of household labor has gone along quite well.
However, there is a category of tasks that remains entirely Tom’s province, and that is the reason why I must write here to thank him. Tom deals with the “yuck!” problems. Garbage disposal clogged? Tom unclogs it. Random dish shoved to the back of the fridge that has a mold colony growing on it and a foul smell? Tom cleans it.
And today, right before my shower, I noticed that water was not draining properly, and I pulled out the stopper mechanism–along with an eight-inch long clot of hair wrapped around it. Now, my mother has long, thick, wavy Portuguese hair, as does my sister. I do not have thick hair, but I tend to shed when I’m nervous and I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. As you might imagine, my father was tasked with unclogging a great many drains in his time that he shared no responsibility for clogging in the first place. And like my father before him, Tom–hair shaved to the scalp, body hair immaculately groomed–came into the bathroom at my squealing, stammering behest–“Tom, you have to deal with this, I can’t!”–and removed the stopper from my sight. He thus returned it hair-free and our drain flows freely once again.
So thanks, Tom, and to all the other people who are the perennial “yuck” handlers in their relationships. You are the ones who make our day to day existence possible.